Ptolemaeus Arabus et Latinus

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Work C.2.1

Thābit b. Qurra
جوامع لما قاله بطلميوس في قسمة الأرض المسكونة
Jawāmiʿ li-mā qāla-hu Batlamyūs fī qismat al-arḍ al-maskūna

A summary of Ptolemy’s perception of the division of the oecumene, mostly based on the second book of the Tetrabiblos in the version attributed to Ibrāhīm b. al-Ṣalt/Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq (A.2.3). The sole witness of this work is part of a multiple-text manuscript dating back to 5th/11th century Persia (Istanbul, Süleymaniye, Ayasofya 4832). Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa lists titles by Thābit b. Qurra that may refer to this small work, in particular Kitāb fī Qismat al-arḍ and Kitāb fī Jawāmiʿ al-maskūna. Additionally, he mentions a Kitāb fī Tafsīr al-arbaʿa as well as a summary of the first book of the Tetrabiblos (Jawāmiʿ al-maqāla al-ūlā min al-arbaʿ li-Baṭlamyūs), the latter also listed by Ibn al-Qifṭī. However, apart from the present treatise, no other commentary on the Tetrabiblos by Thābit appears to have survived. Full title: Jawāmiʿ li-mā qāla-hu Batlamyūs fī qismat al-arḍ al-maskūna ʿalā l-burūj wa-l-kawākib.

Content: The summary centers on Chapters II.3 and II.5 of the Tetrabiblos, while incorporating information about triplicities and decans from Chapters I.18 and I.19. Scattered references to Ptolemy are introduced by ‘qāla inna …’ but do not literally quote the Arabic Tetrabiblos. A set of quotations attributed to Thābit b. Qurra can be found in the fast majority of manuscripts containing the version of the Tetrabiblos by Ibrāhīm b. al-Ṣalt/Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq (A.2.3). These also include some annotations on Book II, which, however, were not extracted from the present work. Thābit’s treatise apparently ended with a diagram (‘wa-qad ṣuwwirat ṣūra’) presenting a scheme of the inhabited regions and corresponding zodiacal signs according to Ptolemy. The surviving witness reserves a blank space but omits the figure; it may have been similar to the diagram on the division of the oecumene found in an anonymous commentary on Tetrabiblos II.3 (C.2.4).

Text: [Istanbul, Süleymaniye, Ayasofya 4832]

(54v–56v) [title] وجدنا ما أجرى بطلميوس عليه للأمر فيما ذكره من قسمة المسكون من الأرض على البروج والكواكب. — وقد صوّرت الصورة تفهم مواقع البلدان التي لكلّ برج على رأي بطلميوس على أثر هذا الكلام [missing diagram] تمّ الكتاب والحمد لله ربّ العالمين والصلوة على محمّد وآﻟﻪ أجمعين.

Bibl.: Ibn al-Qifṭī, Taʾrīkh al-ḥukamāʾ (ed. LippertJulius Lippert, Ibn al-Qifṭī’s Taʾrīḫ al-ḥukamā, Leipzig: Dieterich, 1903, p. 118); Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ (ed. MüllerAugust Müller, ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī l-ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ li-ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, 2 vols, Cairo: al-Maṭbaʿa al-Wahbiyya, 1882, pp. 215–220; ed. Savage-Smith et al.Emilie Savage-Smith, Simon Swain and Geert Jan van Gelder, A Literary History of Medicine - The ʿUyūn al-anbāʾ fī ṭabaqāt al-aṭibbāʾ of Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿah, 5 vols, Leiden: Brill, 2020, no. 10.3); Boris A. Rozenfeld and Nuriya G. Khairetdinova, Sabit ibn Korra. 836-901, Moskva: Nauka, 1994, pp. 145–147; MAOSICBoris A. Rosenfeld and Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Mathematicians, Astronomers, and other Scholars of Islamic Civilization and their Works (7th–19th c.), Istanbul: Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), 2003, p. 53 (no. 103, A12).

Ed.: Some paragraphs of the text were translated into Russian by Jamāl al-Dabbāgh in Rozenfeld & Khairetdinova.